I feel extremely privileged to welcome your Excellencies in Delhi on the occasion of First BIMSTEC Energy Ministers’ Conference on behalf of the people of India and the Govt. of India. I extend a very warm welcome to all of you. I would also like to convey best wishes on behalf of my colleague, Shri P.M. Sayeed, Minister of Power who could not be with you because of unavoidable circumstances.
BIMSTEC was born as a sub-regional technical and economic cooperation grouping in 1997. Since then, we have marched forward in a significant manner. We are now a family of 7 countries with a well set out goal.
BIMSTEC countries have many natural complementarities with long standing economic, cultural, civilizational and historical links. This region has been endowed by nature with abundant resources. Exploitation of these resources in a sustainable manner holds potential for making this region economically and socially developed and prosperous.
At the First BIMSTEC Summit, our leaders, interalia agreed on a common vision of assessing the challenges and opportunities for economic cooperation in our region and also on ways to realize the objectives of growth and development, both social and economic effectively and efficiently. It was agreed to focus on specific areas of cooperation. Energy was identified as one of the focus areas.
Energy is one of the key drivers for economic development and also for improving the standards of living of our peoples. Direct co-relation between availability of energy and economic and social progress has been acknowledged widely across the world. Meeting our growing energy needs in a way that all the households and enterprises get access to energy at reasonable cost is one of the major challenges we are facing today. We need to meet these challenges squarely, if full potential of our economic growth and development is to be realized.
It was agreed at the Summit that we need to promote sustainable and optimal energy utilization through development of new hydro carbon and hydro power projects, interconnection of electricity and natural gas grids, promoting energy conservation and renewable energy technologies. This strategy has emerged keeping in view our natural resources endowment. It is also a matter of satisfaction that BIMSTEC Energy Experts have recommended that Energy Sector Cooperation Programme should be expanded to include bio-fuel, coal energy and energy accessibility to the rural population.
We have already made some progress in cooperation in the area of developing non-conventional sources of energy. Project in this area is already functioning. A consensus has also emerged that we need to move quickly for BIMSTEC Trans Power Exchange and Grid Interconnections aiming at electric grid connectivity and make a thorough study of Trans-BIMSTEC Gas Pipeline/(s) with a view to exploit the best available techno-commercial option. It is a matter of satisfaction that some progress has been made for developing a gas pipeline in some of the countries of the region. Some initial steps have also been taken for cooperation in developing hydro potential of the region.
We have gathered here with a determination of coming out with an agreed framework for accelerated cooperation in the area of energy along with a concrete plan of action. Peoples of the BIMSTEC region have great hopes that regional cooperation will lead to betterment in their living standards. I am sure that we will live up to their expectations.
At the end, let me again extend a warm welcome to all of you in New Delhi. I sincerely hope that your stay here would not only be comfortable but also memorable, satisfying and successful.